The new X-Files season, a short one that renews the series after being off the air for 14 years, is a very mixed bag. A very very mixed bag. Episode 5 is practically one long platitude, while episode 3 is brilliant (literally, my favorite TV episode ever made, out of all I can remember, anyway).
X-Files Season 10
I’m going to make this section short. X-Menesque mutants debut in episode 2, after in episode 1 Mulder talks of having the new revelation that men are using alien stuff to evolve humans and improve technology. While critics ate this stuff up as a critical reflection of modern American politics, I thought it disappointingly silly, since I was pretty sure Mulder had already thought this (that is, his new revelation) from watching the previous shows. It’s what I took away from the X-Files in the past, anyway, so it seemed cheap and confusing. Most of the new episodes are quite gory, too (that is, gorier than before).
“Brilliant” describes episode 3 (205), “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” written and directed by the very talented Darin Morgan. I would actually love to post much of the dialogue, but, it wouldn’t be the same as seeing it in context; to say more about it would spoil it, too. However, you can watch the episode for free with the Fox Now app. In stark contrast, Darin’s brother (Glen Morgan) wrote the bizarre, incredibly gross, and almost nonsensical episode 4. I would like to call it amazingly immature. Scully, at her age and experience, should not have reacted the way she did in that episode, but without this immaturity foisted upon her there’d be no episode 4.
Episode 5 (207): “Babylon”
Now, episode 5. This is another one of those political episodes that is just bad because of about, well, everything possible: the writing, the imagery, the patronizing, the false impressions it gives, the opinionization of faith mixed with false understandings of scriptures and how they’re used (or not) by Jews and Muslims (Christians seem to be left out), and the introduction of a very over-the-top angry female agent that you just want to slam a door on after having pushed her through it.
This episode revolves around a suicide bomber strike in the US, with one of the two bombers surviving (barely, as a large chunk of his head is actually missing). Of course, if he had detonated his bomb he would not be alive, so we can surmise that this choice of his will play into the story. The audience is somewhat bombarded with patronizing platitudes about not being anti-Muslim (do you get tired of the preachiness of this type of thing, which assumes that most Americans are so stupid and hateful as to think ALL Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers?).
What’s odd, and central, to this episode is the idealization of the survivor’s mother. It’s almost like Chris Carter, the writer and director, wanted us all to forget the mother of the Boston bombers, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva. She pushed her sons toward radicalism; the dad had not, and even left his wife over this issue. Instead of being sorry for her sons’ murders she blames the US (who are terrorists, she claims), saying that she’ll rejoice when “Allah grants us the chance to behold them in the flames of an eternal and terrifying fire, an otherworldly flame.”
Yay for motherly love! By no means do I mean to say that there aren’t Muslim mothers like the one depicted in this X-Files episode. What I have a problem with is that, since the show concludes by implying that they’re all like this mother–or should be, and that seems to make it real–the show is presenting a false and sentimental view that exhibits the same blind unthinking ways that they’re criticizing. As any mature person knows, our ideals about what’s best often don’t come to fruition and they certainly aren’t the overall reality we see in the world.
But there’s more. In one “vision” scene that takes place in a boat in stormy skies (with black hooded oarsmen chanting Allahu Akbar), Mulder sees the mom sitting with her injured son draped across her knees. They both have white on, too. Some might view this as a blasphemous use of Michelangelo’s Pieta statue in the Sistine Chapel; it certainly is something false.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone actually made this kind of statement on behalf of persecuted Christians, who in other parts of the world are hunted down and imprisoned, beaten, raped, and/or killed by Muslims? Again, not all Muslims do this, but then neither do all Americans hate Muslims. It’s truly tiring to have to say this over and over again in response to politically correct rhetoric.
Now we get to the confused end. The series context to this is that Mulder hasn’t wanted to entertain thoughts of God, and that Scully is a believer–she even still wears a cross in this season’s episodes. But, you’d never know Scully was much of a believer based on her conversation with Mulder here. They both know something of the Old Testament, but only enough to make it scary; they both completely ignore the New Testament and Christ, even though Mulder had a vision related to Him earlier (and even with this strong image, Jesus Christ is not mentioned or even hinted at). The writer of this episode, Chris Carter, is actively being deceptive here–I can see no other conclusion. Below, with commentary, is the dialogue that concludes episode 5.
M: I saw things . . . Scully. Powerful things. I saw deep and unconditional love.
S: I saw things too. I witnessed unqualified hate . . . that appears to have no end.
M: Yeah. But how to reconcile the two? The extremes of our nature.
S: That’s the question. Maybe the question of our times. Seriously? Ha ha ha. Really, seriously? Humans are different now? It is the same with the gay issue. These issues are neither new nor different now compared to our past. Some people are simply myopic as well as arrogant enough to think that they have picked up on something new and that they are the qualified ones to rectify it.
M: Walk with me Scully. This whole thing has got me thinking. Thinking about God.
S: You, Mulder, thinking about God?
M: The angry God of the Bible (so what happened with the loving God of the New Testament, or by “Bible” does he mean only the Torah?). The Tower of Babel and Babylon, scattering people violently, so as never to speak a common language. To say God scattered them violently is false, He simply confused their language.
S: Punishing man for his hubris.
M: Well, that lesson didn’t stick. But the anger sure remains. Again, Mulder is ignoring part of the “Bible,” the New Testament. Are we being given an agnostic’s view of Judaism . . . or something?
S: That’s the same angry God as in the Koran . . . ordering death to the infidels. So, Scully refuses to bring up Christ, even though the writer had Mulder mention unconditional love, referring to the mom with her son, including the imagery shown above. But as Christians know, the imagery is based on Mary looking at Jesus’ dead body, the body he gave as a sacrifice for humanity. So, we’ll just ignore that now? Or, as they say below, it’s all the mom, mom’s love, and nothing to do with Christ and God’s love for mankind. Truly amazing.
M: What exactly is this God saying? Worship me and my great anger? Again, ignoring Christ and the New Testament . . . not that God didn’t express His love in the Torah, but we’ll just conveniently ignore that too.
S: Well, that’s a good question, Mulder. One for the ages. Again, what?? She doesn’t even mention Christ, and she’s supposedly a believer. This whole thing is sad, considering the faith-based things having to do with Scully shown in some early X-Files episodes.
M: Well, think about the immense power in those prophecies, the power in those words to convince young men to put on suicide vests today and murder for their angry God. Yes, the angry God in the Koran, if you want to go there (which they did, as long as they allowed themselves to say our God is equally angry). Please note the word “prophecies,” since it’ll be amusingly important in a minute.
S: What are you getting at?
M: Those boys, they just swallow the pill. It’s the power of suggestion. Perhaps to a degree, but then what makes those who are making the suggestions have their own evil thoughts? And by pill, he’s referring to his earlier “trip,” induced from a mushroom-based drug or a placebo–in the end we are still left guessing which it was.
S: Is this received wisdom from your magical mystery tour?
M: Courtesy of . . . the shrooms, something else, something to trump all hatred: Mother Love. So “God is Love,” and God is Father, is replaced with Mother Love.
S: Whoa. Really. Mother love didn’t stop the bombers, nor any other person who’s committed violence. God’s love or a mother’s love or any other type of love isn’t going to stop certain persons from being evil.
M: I refuse to believe that mothers are having babies just to be martyrs. They used to kind-of do that in Sparta, and besides, martyrdom gives a person automatic entry into paradise, according to Islam. I want to believe that mothers have a greater purpose, for all of us. Well, of course; that’s called “being a normal mother.”
S: I agree. A child is not a tool to spread hatred. Why does this have to be said? Has America become so inane?
M: But where does the hatred end, though?
S: Maybe it ends where it began, by finding a common language again. Maybe that’s God’s will. So, we’re going to defy God now—ignoring scripture and His own timing of this? Sure. They’re making God in their own image (or thoughts) here, so I shouldn’t be surprised . . .
M: How can we really know? He’s absent from the stage. *sigh* His scriptures are to be ignored too, apparently. So why bother? Really, what is the point, then, in bringing Him up at all? As a means to justify making God in your own image?
S: Well . . . maybe it’s beyond words (an affirmation for ignoring scripture). Maybe we should do like the prophets (like the ones who made those “prophecies” mentioned earlier, the ones that make young men blow people up?) and . . . open our hearts (so, you don’t mean with bombs, right?) and truly listen. So now it’s good to look into scripture, since that’s where the prophets are? This is really crazy . . .
M: (Mulder hears a trumpeting noise)
S: What? (more trumpeting noise) What? The end
The trumpeting sounds from God, or from the shofar, have spiritual significance. In the New Testament, they are heard during the end times, but that doesn’t seem to be at all relevant to the dialogue (especially when the whole New Testament was ignored all along). I’m guessing that Mulder’s thoughts are being approved of by God . . . or is it Mother Love?
“I want to believe” sure takes a lot of turns in this series.